Survivor’s Remorse (S.R.) is a new Starz half hour single camera comedy vehicle from actor-comic-writer Mike O’Malley and executive producers Lebron James and Maverick Carter. Survivor’s Remorse is for the most part a new take on the Entourage model except in the family setting with professional basketball as the backdrop.
S.R. chronicles the rise of Cam Calloway (Jesse Usher), a baller from the mean streets of Boston, who until now had been a journeyman making the league minimum in Memphis. Cam has a big year and becomes the franchise free agent acquisition in Atlanta, where he moves his most trusted confidants along with him, his family, and as the old adage goes, mo’ money mo’ problems.
A stellar cast of characters rounds out Cam’s family. Mom, Cassie Calloway is played by the always-brilliant Tachina Arnold. RonReaco Lee shines as Reegie Vaughn, Cam’s cousin/ right-hand man/ voice of reason. Reggie’s wife Missy is played by Teyonah Parriss. M-Chuck (Erica Ash) brings the funny as Cam’s sister and stereotypical lesbian baller, the Cheryl Miller to Cam’s Reggie Miller, who might just chase tail harder than the guys do. Last but not least is perhaps my favorite character thus far, Uncle Julius. He lives out the dirty uncle’s dream, bagging groupies or anyone with a vagina who is trying to get next to the franchise player. Everyone has an Uncle Julius. He’s the guy who gave us our first taste of the nightlife, or let us see our first pair of boobs on a grown woman. You always feel indebted to him for showing you the game as it is. Arguably, no one since the late great Bernie Mac has played the dirty uncle better than Epps. Aside from the great writing it is the palpable chemistry amongst the cast that makes S.R. go, and gives it that special feeling you get when you’re witnessing great comedy.
If the title doesn’t make it obvious enough, Survivors Remorse illuminates the struggle a lot of young black athletes have in making the transition from the backwoods or some straight hood shit to being thrust into a situation where they’re a high profile employee of a billion dollar corporation expected to shed unsavory aspects of themselves for image purposes. (i.e. Allen Iverson, Isaiah Rider, Pacman Jones, the list goes on.) Cam is definitely not one of the extreme cases like the aforementioned athletes. He’s pretty well adjusted, though a little rough around the edges, but naive of the fact that everything he does is being watched and scrutinized. He views himself as just a ball player, not a role model or a brand ambassador. In fact, Cam feels guilty on some level that he is thriving playing basketball while so many others where he’s from struggle. He even compares himself to Schindler when speaking of his desire to save those drowning in the struggle. Reggie, with his eyes constantly on the prize reminds Cam that, “Some tweak in Dorchester does not deserve a spot on your generosity list just because he grew up two doors down.” Reggie definitely understands that the family has to move differently, he’s seen ESPN’s 30 for 30 Broke, and VH1’s Too legit: The MC Hammer Story; and Uncle Julius certainly knows how hard it is to tap the top shelf booty if there’s no millionaire in the building. On the contrary, Mama Cassie and M-Chuck feel that just because Cam has entered a different tax bracket with an image to uphold, they don’t have to change a thing consequently clash with Reggie on the issue
All of the early episodes are hilarious and I can’t pick a favorite at this point. The trouble begins when Cam rushes his mom to Atlanta to be with him, and instead of having a yard sale she gives most of the family things away. Long story short, Cam’s Diary and a an old video of he and Reggie being playfully racist as I like to call it, ends up in the hands of a bitter old friend, and the blackmail begins. Another hiccup occurs when Cassie; while on the red carpet at an event for Emily’s Place (Domestic/ Child Abuse) waxes poetic about how she used to whoop cam with extension chords and hot wheels tracks, and instead of walking back the remarks, she takes the Adrian Peterson “I did nothing wrong, I got ass whoopins’, and look how I turned out” defense. The issues in the show are relevant to the times we live in; and the writers mine all of the comedy out of the disconnect between folks from the other side of the tracks and mainstream society.
Finally for you people wondering if creator Mike O’Malley is white, you would be correct. In a recent Huffington Post interview, writer-director of new film Dear White People Justin Simien is quoted in saying, “When I watch television, you can always tell when the one black character that’s sort of guest-starring was written by a room of white people, you can always tell because the traits and quirks that they give them are just like: Yeah, there was no black person in that room. They would have told you that that joke is completely absurd.” If this set of circumstances is problematic for you, let it go for this show, trust me. Either O’Malley is just one of those white dudes that “gets it” (they’re out there) or he has enough black voices on set to make his characters as authentic as possible. Nothing feels forced or fake, and the show is all the more funny for it. Bottom line, Survivors Remorse is one of the funniest new shows on TV, so if you’re not tuned into Starz on Saturday nights at 9, you’re missing out.